To most international communities, the word Hiroshima has always been linked to the bombing of the city during World War II. What we usually have in mind when the name ‘Hiroshima’ is mentioned are horrific images of the aftermath of the atomic bombing which caused the immediate killing of an estimated 80,000 people.

Immediately after the bombing, the city of Hiroshima was in total ruin, covered with atomic radiation causing victims to have burns on their bodies. However, little do we realise that the destruction has also led to the birth of Hiroshima-styled Okonomiyaki, a traditional Japanese cuisine.

The bombing of Hiroshima City, not only brought massive killings of human beings, but has caused the survivors to do major adjustments to their lives including the food they ate. The bomb caused everything to be radiated including water, livestock, and crops. As an immediate result of the bombing, the surviving city inhabitants were deprived of proper food. The people were suffering to the maximum.

To continue their lives, they had to depend on external resources supplied by people outside the city. One of the food resources came from the General Head Quarters (GHQ) which was then led by Supreme Commander, General Douglas McArthur. In order to help the civilians, General McArthur ordered the GHQ to supply flour to the people of Hiroshima.

This was where Hiroshima-styled Okonomiyaki started. The term ‘okonomi’ means ‘as you like’. Using the supplied flour, the Hiroshima inhabitants mixed the flour with water and any available vegetables notably cabbage which was given by farmers in the surrounding areas not affected by the radiation. The ingredients were arranged in layers, one after another. They were then grilled or steamed before another final grilling and garnishing; before the dish was eaten by the surviving but suffering people of Hiroshima city. Back then, Hiroshima-styled Okonomiyaki was very basic, containing simple ingredients as most of the food resources were contaminated with atomic radiation and the dish was prepared under a dire situation.

As time goes by, like many other food, Hiroshima-style Okonomiyaki also goes through innovations. You can also be more creative in making the dish tastier by adding available ingredients such as diced chicken, seafood and cheese. True to its name ‘okonomi’, you can customise your Hiroshima-style Okonomiyaki by adding anything that you like to the basic ingredients. That is the uniqueness of Hiroshima-Style Okonomiyaki!




Dr. Azmi Abdul Latiff

Centre of Language Studies

Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia (UTHM)


Assoc Prof. Dr. Nurhaizal Azam Arif,

Hiroshima City University, Japan